Masnavi 19

HomeIranPoetryMowlana Jalaluddin Rumi - Masnavi Stories

STORY VIII. The Boys and their Teacher.
To illustrate the force of imagination or opinion, a story is told of a trick
played by boys upon their master. The boys wished to obtain a holiday, and the
sharpest of them suggested that when the master came into the school each boy
should condole with him on his alleged sickly appearance. Accordingly, when he
entered, one said, "O master, how pale you are looking!" and another
said, "You are looking very ill today," and so on. The master at first
answered that there was nothing the matter with him, but as one boy after
another continued assuring him that he looked very ill, he was at length
deluded into imagining that he must really be ill. So he returned to his house,
making the boys follow him there, and told his wife that he was not well,
bidding her mark how pale he was. His wife assured him he was not looking pale,
and offered to convince him by bringing a mirror; but he refused to look at it,
and took to his bed. He then ordered the boys to begin their lessons; but they
assured him that the noise made his head ache, and he believed them, and
dismissed them to their homes, to the annoyance of their mothers. Apropos of
the sharpness of the boy who devised this trick, the poet takes occasion to
controvert the opinion of the Mu'tazalites, that all m en are born with equal
ability, and to express his agreement with the doctrine of the Sunnis, that the
innate capacities of men vary very greatly.